Tribal Journeys Resumes After a Three Year Hiatus

After a three-year COVID-related hiatus, Tribal Journeys resumed this year, culminating in a week of cultural protocol at Muckleshoot.

(Shown above, paddlers arriving at Muckleshoot)

The W̱SÁNEĆ Nation was one of 80 communities that paddled to Muckleshoot for a week of 24/7 cultural protocol this summer. 120 canoe families joined from as far as Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan.

Participants paddled for days and, in some circumstances, weeks to reach Muckleshoot, stopping to visit many communities along the way. For over 60 canoes, one such stop was Tsawout Spit, where paddlers were welcomed by Tsawout and Tseycum First Nations. Those traveling from the Tsawout Spit continued onto Tsartlip territory the next morning before continuing the journey towards Muckleshoot.

Upon reaching the final destination at Alki Beach, paddlers requested permission to land, calling out from canoes to the host community and raising paddles in peace. Once the host community granted permission, participants moved onto the land to settle in for cultural protocol.

The week of cultural protocol included 24/7 singing, dancing, feasting and sharing on behalf of every attending community, beginning with the communities who paddled the farthest to be there. Outside, food, crafts, and more were available, including wares from Salish Works, Two Bears Healing and Crafts, o-hal-child, and many, many more! Artist Kimberly Saladin captured moments throughout the week in paintings.

W̱SÁNEĆ participation Tribal Journeys is a powerful reclamation of culture. Therefore, resuming after three years felt particularly special.

As W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Director of Operations Gord Elliott shared, “It is incredibly powerful to witness, I have a lot of pride carrying on our traditions and teachings — like mutual respect for other communities. Our ancestors risked their safety to keep our culture and our traditions alive.’”

Many participating communities used this journey as an opportunity to recognize and remember the family members tragically lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flo Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation posted the following on Facebook:

“Our paddle was in honour of Charlie Tom, skipper for many years, lost him to COVID He had many health issues and couldn’t win against COVID. Missed but never forgotten.”

Overall, the paddle to Muckleshoot and immersion in cultural protocol was a deeply meaningful opportunity to acknowledge losses in the community, celebrate the perseverance of W̱SÁNEĆ culture and our people, and connect with family members from communities near and far.

W̱SÁNEĆ is grateful for the opportunity to celebrate and share W̱SÁNEĆ culture with other communities and looks forward to the Tribal Journey to Ahousaht next year!

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